The New York state legislative session came to an end without addressing the need to reform the New York City disability pension system for new fire fighter and police hires.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) Local 94, with the support of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA) Local 854 and the city’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, have been pushing to resolve problems with the current law that stem from a then-Governor David Patterson’s veto of the 2009 Tier II Extender Bill for New York City fire fighters and police.
The veto led to a severe reduction in disability payments for newly-hired fire fighters and police officers on the job. Currently, a first-year uniformed employee on disability would get $10,000, which equates to just $27 per day.
“We are very disappointed by the outcome of this long fight that the UFA has led on behalf of more than 1,400 of the FDNY’s newest fire fighters,” says Local 94 President Steve Cassidy. “We have argued vigorously from the start that all New York City fire fighters should have the same disability protections because all risk their lives equally. If a newer fire fighter is permanently disabled on the job, he or she should not be forced to survive on such meager disability benefits.”
Local 854 President Jake Lemonda agrees, “Everyone should be treated equally and fairly when they are doing the same job. There is a moral obligation to protect those willing to put their lives on the line on a daily basis. Even former Governor Patterson has publicly acknowledged he made a huge mistake by vetoing that bill.”
After the 2009 veto, the disability pension issue did not become an immediate issue because there were no new personnel. But, that changed in January 2013 when the FDNY began hiring. New hires now total more than 1,400.
During this legislative session, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed legislation that would have given the most severely injured workers the 75 percent pensions, while providing the rest of newer hires disability pensions worth half their final salaries (keeping them at $27 per day). De Blasio claims that anything more would cost New York City taxpayers too much.
However, since the legislation failed to address the inequity issue between new hires and the others, fire and police unions did not give it their support.
Even though the reform did not happen this session, New York Locals 94 and 854 members remain steadfast on this issue and will not back down until new hires have sufficient disability protections.